Coronavirus leads to cancellation of local events; masks sell out

In this Jan. 22, 2020 photo, a man wears a face mask as he walks past a display for the upcoming Lunar New Year. AP photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Concerns about the spreading coronavirus have put a halt to two Palo Alto Lunar New Year celebrations.

The Palo Alto Chinese New Year Fair, scheduled for Feb. 16, was cancelled because organizers felt they could not guarantee that the fair would be safe for families.

The festival, which started in 2015, is put on by nonprofit group WizChinese and attracts thousands of people. Lead organizer Lily Chiu said Chinese community members were worried about coronavirus and asked for the event to be postponed or cancelled. Since the Lunar New Year already happened on Jan. 25 the organization decided it wasn’t worth postponing the fair and cancelled it.

Chiu explained that many people travel to China over the Lunar New Year so some of them could have been exposed to the virus. She said many attendees bring children to the fair and that one of the highlights of the fair is a food tasting.

The fair is normally a way for the Chinese people in Palo Alto to build community and promote their culture, Chiu said. She said some of the event sponsors allowed WizChinese to keep donations for the event to use next year.

Avenidas cancels event

The Avenidas senior center also cancelled their event which was planned for Jan. 30 in the Cubberley Community Center.

CEO Amy Andonian said that even if the risk of infection is minimal the center wants to make sure its seniors are safe and healthy. She said some seniors had said they were worried that the event could expose them to the virus.

Andonian said people have emailed the center to thank them for watching out for the seniors’ health. Andonian said postponing the event didn’t make sense since the Lunar New Year has passed, but promised a bigger and better celebration next year.

China says 132 people have died and about 6,000 have become sick from an outbreak of a new strand of coronavirus in that country. Many of the people who died were elderly. There have been five cases reported in the United States, including in Southern California, but no deaths.
Symptoms of the illness includes fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

Questions about the virus

The Santa Clara Public Health Department held a press briefing yesterday about the disease with Health Officer Sara Cody.

Cody said there is still a lot that isn’t known about the disease, including how it is spread, but there is no evidence of the disease spreading in the United States.

People who have traveled to China are most at risk. They should monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States, and should call a doctor and wear a mask to protect others if they get sick.

Cody said people who aren’t sick don’t need masks.

It looks like residents are buying masks anyway.

A clerk at the CVS on University Ave. said yesterday that the store is out of face masks and has been advising people to buy them at Home Depot or ACE Hardware.

Hospital prepares

Stanford Hospital has also been preparing for a possible outbreak.

Stanford Health Care spokeswoman Julie Greicius said Stanford is working with the National Centers for Disease Control and local county health offices to monitor the disease and make sure Stanford is ready to care for patients.

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